Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Hockey Pro League: England endure double defeats to Netherlands

Lee Valley — England women were denied back-to-back victories over the Netherlands for the first time after a 2-1 defeat to an inexperienced world No 1 side at Lee Valley on Sunday. The Dutch men then kept up their 12-year unbeaten run over England with another commanding display of incisive finishing and outright flair.

Dutch women’s coach Jami Mulders had expressed little concern over his side’s defeat 24 hours earlier on Saturday, instead praising his young troops for playing some “incredibly good hockey” and matching England for large swathes.

On Sunday, the Olympic, world and Euro champions – missing several top stars – were dominant from the outset and prevailed in this latest Pro League clash after a brace of third quarter penalty corner goals from Ireen van den Assem and Tessa Clasener.

The setpiece comeback was completed after Ellie Rayer had earlier scored a superb opener for England, her pace too good for defender Sabine Plonissen and goalkeeper Julia Remmerswaal to lift the ball into the net. It was a fine finish after the breakaway ball into the Dutch half East Grinstead speedster

“We are still in a learning phase and that’s where we want to peak this summer,” said Rayer after the defeat. “It feels like we are making mistakes and we are slowly learning from them. What was frustrating today was that we had patches today but were better than our performance yesterday but the score didn’t show it.”

The goal had come after an early quarter period of total Dutch dominance as they looked to close circle skill the world has become so accustomed to seeing over the last decade.

That nearly came before the first half hooter when Dutch captain Maria Verschoor stick juggled on the baseline towards goal before her shot came off a body deflection into the net. The referral deemed it dangerous.

Gifting turnover ball – a current problem in England coach David Ralph’s eyes – led to a Dutch PC after the dangerous Felice Albers passed captain Hollie Pearne-Webb to win the routine. Ireen van den Assem crashed the resulting hit past Maddie Hinch, who had otherwise kept England in this contest with another commanding display from close range.

England men couldn’t contain the Dutch pace PIC: England Hockey

The Dutch PC variation of going short and left then led to the Netherlands’ second when Tessa Clasener lifted high into Hinch’s net.

Hannah Martin crashed a last second ball into Petter at the top of the circle but the hooter came to the rescue for the Dutch.

The Dutch men then put in another early masterclass to complete the double header double over England.

A 3-0 victory was followed up by a free-spirited 6-3 win in an entertaining, pacy affair.

From 3-0 down, England had pegged back the Dutch to 3-2 before this Pro League encounter, which included a fine Stuart Rushmere double, began to unravel for new coach Paul Revington’s side. Belgium, the Olympic champions, visit in two weeks.

In Terrassa, venue of the upcoming Women’s World Cup, Spain men put on a dominant show against South Africa to prevail 3-0, while Spain women were 4-0 winners over China.

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